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SIFT: Evaluating Sources Online: Move 4: Trace Back to Original Source


Most of the things we encounter online do not have a lot of context. Context is the set of circumstances and things around a person or thing or event that we humans often rely upon to give something meaning, to understand where it comes from and what it might affect. 

Context is important, as this cartoon illustrates: 

visual context | Wrong Hands

Oftentimes, the more a story is shared, the more it can acquire misleading context in the form of captions and editing of the visual, audio, or video components.

This is why it's important to trace a piece of information back to its original context! 

Finding the Original Source Video

Here's a video (1:34) introducing the process of tracing claims and media back to their original context. 

Search Strategy: Finding the History of Images

Because most of the information we find online is largely visual in nature, tracking the history of an image can be important in determining how accurate that information is. Watch the video (4:14) above to learn about how to find original images. 


Note: This SIFT method guide was adapted from Michael Caulfield's "Check, Please!" course. The canonical version of this course exists at The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC-BY, and free for reuse and revision. We ask people copying this course to leave this note intact, so that students and teachers can find their way back to the original (periodically updated) version if necessary. We also ask librarians and reporters to consider linking to the canonical version.

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